Sugary Drinks Linked to 184,000 Adult Deaths Annually

A new study ties sugar-sweetened beverages to higher mortality rates around the world. Where does the U.S. rank?

New research described as “the first detailed global report on the impact of sugar-sweetened beverages” links 184,000 adult deaths worldwide each year to sugary drinks.

Lead by researchers at Tufts University in Boston, the study was published in the journal Circulation this week.

Senior author Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy at Tufts, states in a press release from the university:

“There are no health benefits from sugar-sweetened beverages, and the potential impact of reducing consumption is saving tens of thousands of deaths each year.”

The study is based on several sources of information, including 62 dietary surveys of nearly 612,000 people conducted between 1980 and 2010 across 51 countries, as well as data on the national availability of sugar in 187 countries.

Using that information, the researchers estimate that in 2010, consumption of drinks sweetened with sugar may have caused about:

  • 133,000 deaths from diabetes
  • 45,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease
  • 6,450 deaths from cancer

Of the 20 most populous countries examined, the U.S. had the second-highest death rate attributed to sugary drinks — an estimated 125 deaths per million adults, or 25,000 total deaths.

Mexico had the highest death rate — an estimated 405 deaths per million adults, or 24,000 total deaths.

The study was previously presented as an abstract at the American Heart Association Council on Epidemiology and Prevention in 2013.

At that time, the American Beverage Association dismissed the study in a public statement, noting that it was “not peer-reviewed or published in a way where its methodology can be fully evaluated” and stating it was “more about sensationalism than science.”

As of this morning, the American Beverage Association had not released a statement about the published version of the study.

If you’re worried about your sugary-drink intake — or wondering how much sugar is too much — check out “18 Drinks With More Sugar Than Coke.” To learn more about soft drinks, check out “What’s Really in Your Soda?

Do studies like this one worry you? Would you change beverage habits because of this information? Share your thoughts in a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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